George Benson on Motown’s Jazz Musicians

George Benson – Photo courtesy

SKF NOTE: A music history lesson from guitarist/singer George Benson. He’s absolutely correct about Motown’s now famous studio jazz musicians.

I was surprised at first to learn how many rock musicians of the 40s and 50s were either jazz musicians, or were strongly influenced by jazz. But the more I thought about it, there was no reason for my surprise. Jazz was a demanding, creative American music. Why wouldn’t serious young musicians aspire to be jazz musicians?


George Benson: I’m using my artistry to show kids who have been told not to listen to jazz. You had musicians who came out of the jazz era recording for Motown records and selling a hundred million copies and creating the number-one sound int the country. But the kids don’t know that, they don’t know that it’s not the Jackson Five playing the music behind them. Those were jazz people and we never got the credit. Now we’re stepping forward and getting the credit.”

George Benson, Bensonality, Riding on a Blue Note: Jazz and American Pop, by Gary Giddins, Da Capo Press 1981

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